GBI’s Macon medical examiner’s office on the verge of closing

GBI’s Macon medical examiner’s office on the verge of closing

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -The Medical Examiner’s Office in Macon is on the verge of being suspended indefinitely on October 1, impacting 46 counties in the state, including Dougherty County.

“It is going to be a great burden to the coroners here with Southwest Georgia,” said Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler.

Any autopsy that needs to be performed in South Georgia goes to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Macon. Fowler said the county does not have its own medical examiner, and he said now with the suspension it provides a financial burden to his office.

“Now with the lab closing, we are going to have to go back before the commissioners, and the county administrator and let them know that we are going to need more money to transport,” said Fowler.

Dougherty County Coroner, Michael Fowler
Dougherty County Coroner, Michael Fowler (Source: WALB)

Not only with it be a financial burden on the county, but this also causes a delay for the families to receive the bodies of their loved ones.

“If someone is dying in Atlanta and we transport them to Atlanta, that doesn’t mean anything. They may have about 30 something cases that day, that don’t mean they are going to get to your case that day,” said Fowler. “When we transport to Macon, we get the remains back that same day.”

A bigger city means more people, and Fowler said Atlanta handles about 3,000 cases a year. With Macon on the verge of closing, he has to now add 400 more cases to Atlanta’s medical examiner’s office.

“We shut down Moultrie lab, Augusta lab, and we shut down Savannah lab, now you are shutting down the essential lab of the state, Macon,” said Fowler. “So, we won’t have a lab from Atlanta lab down to the Florida line, and it really doesn’t make sense.”

Next week, Fowler said they will meet with the GBI’s Chief Medical Examiner to hopefully come up with a solution rather than close the facility indefinitely.

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